Some questions about part of speech

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wyl118
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Some questions about part of speech

Post by wyl118 » 23 Mar 2020 14:19

Hi guys! I'm a graduate students from Korea. I have some questions about part of speech and tree. Could you help me a little? Thank you in advance!

And here are my three questions:

I know that in "give me the phone", "the phone" is a complement, but is "to me" or "me" also a complement in "give the phone to me"?

What is the part of speech of "eating" in "I'm eating a burger."? Is it adjective?

What is the relationship between "leather" and "sofa" in "the leather sofa"? Does "leather" modify "sofa"?

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Ser
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Re: Some questions about part of speech

Post by Ser » 26 Mar 2020 22:08

wyl118 wrote:
23 Mar 2020 14:19
And here are my three questions:

I know that in "give me the phone", "the phone" is a complement, but is "to me" or "me" also a complement in "give the phone to me"?
Both "the phone" and "to me" could be considered complements of the verb "give". You may want to consider how the term "complement" has been defined in your class to know your professors expect. (This can be subject to different definitions.)
What is the part of speech of "eating" in "I'm eating a burger."? Is it adjective?
Man, I can see why you're struggling in this course... "Eating" is a verb here. They're probably assuming you already understand this...

Actually, I'm rather surprised you don't know, since most decent English speakers I've known from Korea have an alright understanding of English grammar. Maybe you're one of those that learned a lot from experience in plenty of exposure to real-world English. [:P]

In traditional English grammar (as in ESL, or typical English classes for native speakers when they're taught a little about grammar) "am eating" is considered one verb in the "present progressive tense", a form of the verb "to eat".

In English linguistics, "am" is an auxiliary verb and "eating" is a non-finite verb. Different people have different opinions on what the relationship between those two verbs is:
- Some will say "am" is the head of an "IP" (inflection phrase) or "TP" (tense phrase) or less commonly "VP" (verb phrase) while "eating" is a VP of its own inside that IP/TP/VP that "am" is the head of. (Tree)
- Others will say "eating" is the head of a VP, and "am" is an "Aux" modifier of its head. (Tree)

You need to review what has been taught in your class to know what answer is expected.
What is the relationship between "leather" and "sofa" in "the leather sofa"? Does "leather" modify "sofa"?
Yes, "leather" modifies "sofa". "Leather sofa" is a noun-noun compound. You may want to read about different types of compound nouns by the effects the components have on meaning, for example, here on Wikipedia.

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Re: Some questions about part of speech

Post by Salmoneus » 29 Mar 2020 18:01

Ser wrote:
26 Mar 2020 22:08
What is the part of speech of "eating" in "I'm eating a burger."? Is it adjective?
Man, I can see why you're struggling in this course... "Eating" is a verb here.
Yeah, but... is it, though?
In English linguistics, "am" is an auxiliary verb and "eating" is a non-finite verb. Different people have different opinions on what the relationship between those two verbs is:
- Some will say "am" is the head of an "IP" (inflection phrase) or "TP" (tense phrase) or less commonly "VP" (verb phrase) while "eating" is a VP of its own inside that IP/TP/VP that "am" is the head of. (Tree)
- Others will say "eating" is the head of a VP, and "am" is an "Aux" modifier of its head. (Tree)
Yeah, but... is it, though?

"Eating" has the same form as a participle (and a participle is an adjective). "Eating" has the same syntax as a participle (once upon a time, they even agreed in number with the subject, back when adjectives agreed in number with things). "Eating" has the same semantics as a participle. Its distribution parallels other adjectives: "This is a blue dog" > "This dog is blue"; "This is a burning house" > "This house is burning", etc. You can even substantivise it in the same way as any other adjective (and in the same way that you can't do for verbs...): "Those who are replete should not steal from those who are lacking" > "The replete should not steal from the lacking".

Given the same phonology, morphology, word order, distribution and semantics as an adjective, isn't it kind of just sophistry to say that this adjective is in some sense "really" a verb? I mean, maybe linguists say that, sure, but linguists do talk a lot of nonsense much of the time (cf all that 'TP' malarky). Why should we believe them in this case?

Sure, the participle in a progressive construction is an unusual sort of adjective - like other participles, it takes a direct object, rather than an indirect or genitive object as other adjectives do. But that tiny difference aside, it's much more like another adjective (i.e. virtually identical) than like a verb (i.e. virtually nothing in common other than etymology).

And for what it's worth the type of linguist who talks about TPs and IPs and so on may call it a verb, but in my experience the type of linguist who talks about languages (the kind who write practical grammars, who write about historical and comparative linguistics, etc) tend to call this a periphrastic construction with progressive semantics, formed from a copula and a participle. To me, this analysis seems much more grounded in reality...

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Re: Some questions about part of speech

Post by Ser » 29 Mar 2020 21:24

Well, I wrote my answer taking an educated guess on what wyl118's homework is likely about. You're preaching to the choir there.

I'm not much of a fan of TPs or IPs either, or of the various fashions that have appeared for thinking about trees in the Generative tradition. In practice, the model I tend to use is basically Dependency Grammar, with words being groupable into (possibly discontinuous) constituents.

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